Who’s next? On the Future of the Rule of Law in Poland, and why President Duda will not save it

With the latest draft laws about the judiciary, the Law and Justice party (PiS) has crossed yet another line. President Duda’s announcement of a veto appears on first sight to present an obstacle to PiS’ march towards completely unrestricted, unitary state power. In this post, I will examine first what effects the PiS drafts will have on the independence of the judiciary by the hands of PiS and then, whether or not President Duda’s so-called veto holds what it seems to promise.

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For Central Europe’s Illiberal Democracies, the Worst is yet to Come

Next week the Polish parliament will most likely pass a bill sponsored by the ruling Law and Justice party, introducing a total overhaul of the country’s judicial system. The tenures of all judges sitting on the Supreme Court, Poland’s highest judicial instance, will be immediately expired, while their successors will be installed by the justice minister. In other words, the members of the last judicial body standing in the way of Law and Justice eradicating tripartite division of powers and court independence will now be appointed by a politically tainted minister.

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Die aktuellste Justizreform in Polen: ist dies das endgültige Ende der Rechtsstaatlichkeit?

Während der Streit um den Verfassungsgerichtshof aus polnischer Sicht als mittlerweile beendet gilt, versucht die Europäische Union eine passende Lösung zu finden, die in der Empfehlung der Kommission geäußerten Forderungen durchzusetzen. Die regierende Partei „Recht und Gerechtigkeit“ beschließt jedoch in der Zwischenzeit weitere Justizreformen, die genauso, wie das umstrittene Verfassungsgerichtshofgesetz, gegen die Grundsätze der Europäischen Union aus Art. 2 EUV, vor allem gegen die Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Demokratie, verstoßen können.

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Statement by the former presidents of the Constitutional Tribunal: Andrzej Rzepliński, Marek Safjan, Jerzy Stępień, Bohdan Zdziennicki and Andrzej Zoll

Last November, the former presidents of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal issued a joint statement to protest against the subjugation of the Tribunal. Now, as the PiS government is about to effectively bring the entire judiciary under their control, they speak up again.

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How to Demolish an Independent Judiciary with the Help of a Constitutional Court

On 20 June, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, with three anti-judges among its members, decided that certain provisions of the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary of Poland were unconstitutional. By doing so, the Tribunal unanimously conceded to the motion of the Minister of Justice, who had questioned those provisions in the course of work on reform of the National Council of the Judiciary. The reason why the current Polish Government unexpectedly suspended the process of usurping control of the national judicial system in order to enlist the help of the constitutional court can be understood with the help of a metaphor.

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The Polish Judiciary Reform: Problematic under European standards and a Challenge for Germany

The latest efforts of the Polish government to reform the judiciary have met with fierce criticism both nationally and internationally. A new legislation concerning the National Council for the Judiciary has recently been introduced to the Polish Parliament and awaits deliberation. The approach the Polish government has chosen is indeed problematic in the light of European standards for Councils for the Judiciary – but so is the German model of selecting judges, which the Polish governments explicitly refers to as a point of reference for their reform.

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An Explicit Constitutional Change by Means of an Ordinary Statute? On a Bill Concerning the Reform of the National Council of the Judiciary in Poland

Towards the end of January 2017, the Polish Ministry of Justice introduced a bill reforming the current legal status of the National Council of the Judiciary. If passed as proposed, the bill would seriously undermine the independence of the judiciary in Poland.

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"The National Council of the Judiciary is under attack in different ways"

While the crisis about the Polish Constitutional Tribunal remains unresolved, ordinary judges in Poland and the constitutional body responsible to safeguard their independence increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs of the vindictive governing party PiS as well. An interview with Waldemar Żurek, spokesman of the National Council of the Judiciary of Poland.

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Das Hohe und das Menschliche: eine Anmerkung zur Affäre Schnizer

Was darf ein Verfassungsrichter öffentlich sagen, ohne die Unabhängigkeit des Verfassungsgerichts zu beschädigen? Die jüngste Affäre um den österreichischen Verfassungsgerichtshof und die Aufregung der FPÖ lehrt, die österreichische Verfassungskultur die Würde des Verfassungsgerichts bloß ästhetisch reflektiert. Verfassungsrichter müssen kein politisches Keuschheitsgelübde ablegen, um sich für ihr Amt zu qualifizieren. Sie müssen nicht auf ihr Wahlrecht verzichten. Sie müssen bloß in der Lage sein, die Unterscheidung zwischen Verfassungsinterpretation und Verfassungspolitik plausibel zu handhaben.

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